Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Nickeil Alexander-Walker Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Soph. 6’5″ 205 PG/SG VA Tech DOB: 9/2/98
16.2 ppg 4.1 rpg 4 apg FG: 47.4% 3 PT: 37.4%

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Recruiting Profile

Wingspan: 6’9″ 

NBA Comparison: Jordan Clarkson/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Strengths: Outside Shooting, Shot Creation, Versatility, Length

Weaknesses: Shot Selection, Consistency, Slow Release

Alexander-Walker helped Virginia Tech earn NCAA tournament berths in back to back seasons, leading the Hokies program to new heights. He turned out to be a steal as a recruit being ranked #32 by Rivals, #40 by 247 Sports, as well as #21 on ESPN and outplaying many of his peers from his high school draft class. His offensive game fits in well with the speed of the NBA game, with Alexander-Walker both running the floor and shooting spot up jumpers well. Mainly used as a catch and shoot type of wing as a freshman, he averaged 10.7 points per game, showing that he can be an efficient shooter going 39.7% on 4.5 three point attempts per game. The numbers were promising and then as a sophomore he was put into a lead ball handler role playing point guard in the absence of Justin Robinson. The injury gave Alexander-Walker a chance to put his point guard skills to use, but it also gave scouts an opportunity to see how he could handle being in that role and it definitely helped his draft stock. He is able to create a shot off of the dribble using step backs and crossovers, or come off of screens and driving to the basket is something that did with ease at the college level. While he can shoot the mid range jump shot well, he also can pull up for a floater or use fakes to get defenders in the air around the basket. His athleticism is solid, and he has good speed in the open court, but also does not have the quickest food speed.

As a passer he improved as he became more comfortable playing as the lead guard, but his 4 assists per game is a sign that he should be able to improve in this area if that is his role in the NBA. His point guard skills as a whole are there, they will just need some coaching to help him adjust to being more of a facilitator. Being able to find a role or play in both guard positions make him a valuable asset to a team and will allow him to compete for minutes early in his career. There were some bad performances in his sophomore season like his 4 point games against Georgia Tech and Syracuse, and he struggled in the last two games of their tournament run. It is a concern to teams that he did not play well on the biggest stage, and that he had some down games against the better teams Virginia Tech played on their schedule. The fact that the ACC is considered the top basketball conference by many should play a factor in how teams assess this. Despite having some down games, he had some big games as well where he put up 25 against Purdue, 19 against Virginia, 21 against Florida State and 19 against North Carolina. His release is slow on his jump shot and he will need to work on shortening his motion to get it off at a faster rate. If he is able to play point guard with his scoring ability and pasing skills that should improve, his ceiling will be very high, much like his cousin and former teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.  

Here is an example of his ability to drive to the basket:

This play shows how he can create and knock down an outside shot:

Alexander-Walker is projected as a lock to go in the first round, with the possibility of being a top ten pick depending on how each team in those positions feel he fits their needs. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level guard, possibly becoming the go to scorer for a team and being a high level perimeter defender. The worst case scenario for Alexander-Walker is that he has a hard time finding a cemented role at the next level and scoring at an effective enough rate to earn significant minutes, leading him to come off of the bench in a more limited role.  

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